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Hawai’i at UCLA Football Preview: Nick Rolovich Has Made Hawai’i Football Fun Again

And, it’s not just because he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at San Jose State Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, we took a look at both the Hawai’i offense and the Rainbow Warrior defense. So, let’s wrap up our Hawai’i previews with a look at the coaching staff and special teams.

Coaching Staff

The Rainbow Warriors are led by second-year head coach Nick Rolovich. The last time Rolovich coached a team at the Rose Bowl, he was the offensive coordinator for Nevada. In that game, the Bruins defeated the Wolfpack, 58-20, in a game so lopsided that Nevada subsequently canceled a home-and-home series against the Bruins that was scheduled for 2015 & 2016.

In the lead up to that game, a lot was written about Nevada QB Cody Fajardo. While Fajardo may not have been much of a threat to the Bruins, Rolovich has proven capable of developing quarterbacks.

He has also re-energized Hawai’i’s fan base last year with the Rainbow Warriors’ first bowl game since the 2010 season. Ironically, Rolovich was the offensive coordinator for Hawai’i that season.

But, winning isn’t the only way Rolovich is making Hawai’i football fun. He’s doing it by not taking things too seriously.

Earlier this week, in response to this tweet from UCLA Athletics:

Rolovich trolled the Morgan Center with a tweet of his own.

It’s nice to see a college football coach who can joke a little on social media. It breathes some fresh air into things.

Rolovich’s offensive coordinator is Brian Smith who served as the play caller last year after returning to Hawai’i after a stint as the offensive coordinator at Occidental College. Smith and Rolovich’s offense scored more than 40 points three times last season and scored 38 points in this season’s opener against UMass and 41 points last week against Western Carolina.

Defensively, Rolovich has a new coordinator in Legi Suiaunoa. Suiaunoa served as the defensive line coach last season under Kevin Lempa. When Lempa took a position at Michigan, Suiaunoa was promoted to defensive coordinator for this season. This is the second time Suiaunoa has served as a defensive coordinator. He also served as the defensive coordinator for Eastern Oregon in 2009. In between, he has coached the defensive line at Portland State and Montana, in addition to Hawai’i last year.

This year, Suiaunoa is being assisted on the defensive line by Mayur Chaudhari who adds defensive ends to his duties this year in addition to his responsibilities as Hawai’i’s Special Teams Coordinator.

Speaking of Special Teams, let’s look at the Rainbow Warriors’ special teams players.

Special Teams

So far this season, Hawai’i has used a pair of kickers. Sophomore Ryan Meskell as handled the field goal duties, making one of two attempts, while freshman Alex Trifonovitch has handled the PAT duties, making ten of eleven tries.

Meskell has handled the kickoff duties exclusively, even though he doesn’t seem to have much range. He is averaging just 54.1 yards per kickoff with no touchbacks through Hawai’i’s first two games. So, the Bruins should expect to be able to capitalize on better field position after the Rainbow Warriors kickoff.

The punting is being done by freshman Stan Gaudion, who is averaging 37.7 yards per punt and whose long is 45. Gaudion doubles as the holder on the field goal and PAT units.

Punts will be returned by sophomore receiver John Ursua and junior receiver Dylan Collie while kickoffs will be taken by either Keelan Ewaliko or Terrance Sayles. So far, Ewaliko has returned 7 of the 10 Hawai’i kick returns this season.

And, that concludes our look at Hawai’i’s coaching and special teams as well as our Hawai’i game previews.



Go Bruins!